Do you know why wall tile installations fail? Find out more in our adhesives Q&A with three industry experts.

A successful tile installation does not only hinge on selecting the right type of tile and the look, but the adhesives keeping each tile against the wall are just as important. WALLS & ROOFS spoke to three industry experts to find out more.

We asked them:
1. What are some of the latest advances in tile adhesives?
2. Why do failures happen and how can they be prevented?
3. Please give some tips for specifying tile adhesives for wall applications?

 

Michael Berg, national sales and marketing manager at Den Braven
1.    Advances?
There is a new-technology hybrid adhesive on the market that has high grip and instant tack for weights of up to 25kg. Its high strength, high E-modulus and high mechanical resistance make this product suitable for adhering to a wide range of wall tiles that are made of different materials such as ceramic tiles, wooden tiles, natural stone tiles, mosaic tiles or glass tiles, amongst others.

2.    Failures?
Adhesive failures can have several causes. The ones we come across most often are incorrect surface preparation of the substrates, as well as not working according to the adhesive manufacturer’s procedures or recommendations. Sufficient and adequate planning together with the perusal of technical data information will minimise failures.

3.    Tips?
As there are several different types, sizes and weights of wall tiles available, one needs to ensure that a correct, compatible adhesive is used for a particular tile and its surface. Consulting with various adhesive companies can assist in finding the correct product for a particular tile and application.

Tiisetso Mokotjo, product manager for tile fixing and waterproofing at Saint-Gobain Weber
1.    Advances?
Tile adhesives are being tailored according to the tile trends. Consumers are buying higher quality tiles, and applying them in wet conditions and areas that are exposed to varying temperatures. These environments need technically designed adhesives with more flexibility to absorb movement, and act as waterproofing too. Epoxy adhesives are also gaining ground due to their high durability and flexibility components.

2.    Failures?
Firstly, adhesives fail because the wall substrate is not suitable for the chosen adhesive. For example, cementitious adhesives on plaster can react with each other. The plaster wall needs to be primed before applying the adhesive.

Secondly, if the adhesive is not suitable for wall applications, failures can happen. It is necessary to assess the tiling environment as well as the properties of the substrate, in order to choose the right adhesive.

3.    Tips?
When choosing an adhesive, start by looking at the conditions:
–    What is the wall made of?
–    Is it inside or outside?
–    Is the wall exposed to movement?
–    Is there any wetness or expected moisture?
Once these questions are answered, you will be able to choose an adhesive that caters for the identified needs.

Sharon Margon, TAL technical advice supervisor
1.    Advances?
Technical advances in tile manufacturing processes and tile sizes and formats can make these tiles tricky to install, and therefore top-quality tile adhesives and ancillary products are required for a successful and lasting installation. Larger format wall tiles, for example, require the use of high-strength rapid- or quick-setting adhesives with slump-resistant properties, and back-buttering of the tile to ensure a to ensure sufficient contact between adhesive and tile.

Large format tiles, unusual shaped tiles (eg Hexagonal) and intricate patterns also require skill in planning the installation.

2.    Failures?
In general, tile installation failures are usually caused by a number of contributing factors, rather than a single factor.
However, more often than not, the lack of intermediate tile panel movement joints, or incorrectly constructed joints, is the major contributing factor.

Incorrect surface preparation, using the wrong adhesive for the tile type, incorrect installation practices, such as the “spot” method to apply adhesives, etc can also result in installation failures.

3.    Tips?
Different types of tiles and installation areas require specific adhesives.
Correct background preparation, selection of the correct products for the specific tile/s and service conditions, the use of high quality tile adhesives and grout, and a good standard of workmanship are fundamental for a successful tile installation.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Den Braven, TAL and Saint-Gobain Weber for the information given to write this article.

 

Considerations to prevent failures
•    Substrate curing times.
•    Surface preparation.
•    Using the correct adhesive and grout system for:
–    The selected tile.
–    Installation conditions.
–    Expected movement.
–    Other extraneous factors.
•    Correctly constructed Tile panel movement joints.
•    Good tiling practice and workmanship.
“When all else fails, read the instructions.”

Tips courtesy of TAL